SAN FRANCISCO: His goal was to change the world with his computer code, but now Mark Zuckerberg is facing the test of his life in rescuing from his deepening crisis over his failure to protect privacy and thwart manipulation.
The 33-year-old computer genius who has been a Silicon Valley for the decade is on the hot seat in Washington and around the world, trying to fix pervasive problems in the world's biggest social network.
As founder and chief executive of Facebook, with about two billion users, Zuckerberg controls the online online “conversation” that affects the media, elections and much more.
Phillips Exeter Academy was the captain of the fencing team, before the elite Harvard University.
Zuckerberg launched Thefacebook.com, as it was then known, from his dorm room on Feb 4, 2004 with some of his roommates and classmates.
He lost out of Harvard three months later for Silicon Valley, where he received his first major funding – US $ 500,000 (RM1.93mil) – from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.
As he was preparing for his April 10th showdown in Congress, Zuckerberg acknowledged that he and Facebook had been too naïve.
“For the most of our existence, we are focusing on all the good that people can bring,” he said in remarks prepared for delivery.
Zuckerberg, who has ditched his customary T-shirts and casual wears in favor of a suit for his appearances in Washington, said Facebook has been an important tool for social movements and helps users. ”
“But it's clear now that we did not get enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well,” he said.
“It was my mistake,” he said.
'A reckless company'
Some critics say Facebook was bound to crash into problems because of how it was built.
Zeynep Tufekci, a University of North Carolina sociologist specializing in social media, said Zuckerberg's business on the extensive data collects.
“It does not want to give that resource away,” Tufekci said, but it did so “in part because it is a reckless company,” she wrote in The New York Times.
Zuckerberg's firm also gave away the data for it, “Tufekci said.
Facebook has prospered on digital ads that resides in the marketing industry.
What is sometimes called a “duopoly” of Google and Facebook controls about 56% of the US digital ad market this year, according to research firm eMarketer.
Zuckerberg's California-based social network has been a flashpoint for controversies about bullying, harassment, free speech, extremist propaganda, election meddling, privacy, and more.
“They do not put enough effort into making sure the user is protected and the experience is assured,” tech industry analyst Rob Enderle said.
In 2008, a US $ 65mil (RM251.68mil) The Harvard classmates – twins Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra – over their charges that Zuckerberg had stolen the idea for Facebook from them.
The conflict was at the heart of The Social Network, an Oscar-winning film written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher.
A Facebook fortune
He is known for setting an annual goal, which have included every day, only eating meat of animals.
The US $ 16bil (RM61.95bil) The IPO was structured to keep control of Facebook in the hands of Zuckerberg, who has been Time's ” Person of the Year. “
Forbes estimated his net worth at about US $ 64bil (RM247.80bil), and he cracked the magazine's list of the world's 20 richest people.
Zuckerberg and his doctor wife, Priscilla Chan, have pledged to give away their Facebook fortune to make the world a healthier, happier place for children.
“Having kids changes a lot,” Zuckerberg said in an interview with CNN.
“I used to think that the most important thing to me was the greatest impact of the world as I can; now AFPis in the middle of nowhere.